I have approximate answers and possible beliefs, in different degrees of certainty, about different things. But I'm not absolutely sure of anything and of many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here and what the question might mean. Richard Feynman During an interview in BBC's Horizon program (1981)

Last year, before doing the nba preseason predictions,  I told you all that I was going to get this wrong. There seemed to be significant disconnect between what people thought they know and what the numbers actually said. Not only that but I knew that as with every prediction model there was absolutely no way I was going to get everything right.

Making predictions is a thankless exercise, but I love a challenge. Shall we look at how I actually did last year?

  • An average absolute error of 6 wins. It goes down to less than 5 if I ignore the injury disasters (Minnesota, New Orleans and Philly) and the Rudy Gay trade (Memphis)
  • 23 teams finished within 8 wins of the prediction. There were 2 predictions on the high side and 5 on the low side.
  • I predicted 13 of 16 Playoff teams.
  • I predicted the finals matchup. I came within a ridiculous Ray Allen three of calling that series as well.
  • I did very well last year.

But! We're going to see if we can match and improve on that this year. You see, rather than doing every team in one post, we're going to do a detailed breakdown of all 30 NBA teams.  You'll probably agree with some of our predictions, and you'll be shocked and outraged by others, but most of all, we hope that you'll be entertained.

We wouldn't mind if you told 100 of your closest friends about it, either.

Let's go over the basics for the projections first. To get to this point I had to:

Using all that information, I'm able to model player productivity for the coming year and create a win model for each team based on the following simple equation:

TeamWins = WinsPrevious WinsLost WinsGained PlayerGrowth PosADJ

Where:

  • WinsPrevious is the expected wins for previous year (This is the games the team would have been expected to win based on their Point Margin per 48 minutes last year).
  • WinsLost are the wins lost from losing productive players (i.e. wins lost to free agency, or retirement)
  • WinsGained are the wins added to the roster. These are the wins gained through acquiring free agents or draft picks.
  • PlayerGrowth is the change in player production, either a growth or a decline. These are the wins lost or gained through rotation/minute adjustments, and the progress of Father Time, which will be beneficial to the young folks, and pretty rough on the older folks.
  • PosADJ is the size and/or position adjustment based on projected rosters.

I throw this goodness in a bowl, crank the mixer up to "puree", and generate projections for each team. One new wrinkle for this year is that I've refined my variability projection for the model. This means that I should be able to more accurately forecast the likelihood of a given win total for each team.

Now, where should we start? Well, how about the bottom? Click through to read our first preview!

Want even more information? We've got the preseason data crunched as well.


Here's how the NBA looked to use right before tip off. There are upsets and surprises to be sure, but from where?

As a public service, Arturo was kind enough to update all the rosters post Gortat trade, re-run the Sim and include the playoffs. See the results here

PACIFIC
Golden State Warriors 67 - 15 .817
Los Angeles Clippers 56 - 26 .683
Phoenix Suns 39 - 43 .476
Sacramento Kings 29 - 53 .354
Los Angeles Lakers 21 - 61 .256
SOUTHWEST
Houston Rockets 56 - 26 .683
Memphis Grizzlies 55 - 27 .671
San Antonio Spurs 55 - 27 .671
Dallas Mavericks 50 - 32 .610
New Orleans Pelicans 45 - 37 .549
NORTHWEST
Portland Trail Blazers 51 - 31 .622
Oklahoma City Thunder 45 - 37 .549
Utah Jazz 38 - 44 .463
Denver Nuggets 30 - 52 .366
Minnesota Timberwolves 16 - 66 .195
CENTRAL
Cleveland Cavaliers 53 - 29 .646
Chicago Bulls 50 - 32 .610
Milwaukee Bucks 41 - 41 .500
Indiana Pacers 38 - 44 .463
Detroit Pistons 32 - 50 .390
SOUTHEAST
Atlanta Hawks 60 - 22 .732
Washington Wizards 46 - 36 .561
Miami Heat 37 - 45 .451
Charlotte Hornets 33 - 49 .402
Orlando Magic 25 - 57 .305
ATLANTIC
Toronto Raptors 49 - 33 .598
Boston Celtics 40 - 42 .488
Brooklyn Nets 38 - 44 .463
Philadelphia 76ers 18 - 64 .220
New York Knicks 17 - 65 .207